Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The Sights of Traverse City (and surrounding areas)
The Mr went on a business trip with his dad when he was 12 and remembered rolling down Sleeping Bear Dunes. It's all I've heard about for 20 years and I figured his milestone birthday would be the perfect time to take him back. As I did more research on Traverse City, I began to get excited. Pictures of TC in autumn were awe inspiring and the water was so blue you could easily mistake it for Hawaii. You put Fall and Hawaii together and you've basically got my perfect vacation. Mother Nature had other plans as it was between 45-50 degrees, rainy and windy about 90% of our time there. In the past it could've been a trip ruiner for us but there was so much to do and see and I'm not made of sugar, I won't melt.
A scenic lookout by the Chateau Grand Traverse affords you this amazing view of the water, vineyards and blazing autumn colors. I could not picture a more perfect scene if I'd imagined it myself.
If you're a wine drinker, stop by and pick up some of the spiced cherry wine. We're not drinkers but this was a definite must have for the holiday season. We'll save it for the inevitable moment of holiday unmerriment at some point in the season.
We made lots of little road trips from our home base at Long Lake and one of them was up to the town of Leland and more specifically, Fishtown.
Fishtown pays homage to Michigan's maritime legacy and is made of weathered little shanties, shops and boats. Make sure you stop by the Village Cheese Shanty if you go, they are said to have some great sandwiches but we'd already eaten when we got there. We'll make up for it next time.
There are wonderful little places you can pull over and take in the beauty that surrounds you like this sunset we snagged on the way down from Suttons Bay.
Sleeping Bear Dunes was named "the most beautiful place in America" in 2011 by Good Morning America and it was easy to see why as we roamed the area. We had our best weather day the day we went there so of course we had to do the Dune Climb.
After hoofing it up to the top and the Mr hurling himself down the hard, wet sand from the night before we went on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. It is not to be missed! From the covered bridges...
...to stunning overlooks with water so blue you could get lost in it.
Not too far away is Glen Haven Beach which is possibly the most perfect beach and I've been to many of them.
The water is deep blue, smooth stones perfect for skipping line the beach, to either side sand as far as the eye can see and even the remains of a little tugboat called "the good tug Aloha." It was even given an honorable mention by "Dr. Beach" (I'd like that guys job)
See this perfect Fall landscape? A random scenic overlook.
In Benzie County, north of the town of Frankfort, is the majestic Point Betsie Lighthouse. Built in the mid 1800's and restored to it's former color scheme not seen since the 1940's, this is one of the most photographed lighthouses and it's easy to see why.
At the roads end through the charming town of Frankfort, you'll come upon the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse and it is quite possibly one of the loveliest areas we saw.
The Mr is completely smitten with this place and we spent a good amount of time just taking in the view from the swings on the beach and walking out to the lighthouse.
I enjoyed some awesome shopping in downtown TC. Some of my favorites were Wilson Antiques (both downtown and East Bay locations), The Cherry Stop, Nest of Grand Traverse, Spice Merchants (hi Harley the pup!), Love Traverse City, Great Lakes Bath and Body (the lady there was SUPER nice!) and many more including Country Christmas...
Yeah, you knew the Christmas freak would totally be all over that! Nice people too!
(Update: I've been to Bronner's in Frankenmuth. I'm not partial to the massive crowds there but thanks for the suggestion!)
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few things. Traverse City and the surrounding towns must have some of the nicest people we have ever encountered on Earth. What I wouldn't give to have these people as my neighbors and friends. It nearly brought me to tears at times to know there are still such wonderful people in this world. It's the kind of place that if you broke down on the side of the road, five cars would stop, one guy would say he's got the part you need back in his garage while the other people offer you a dry spot to keep warm while they fix the car and you'd never once think you were going to get robbed or killed. (I watch way too much Criminal Minds...or the news)
I also feel it needs to be mentioned that this is a town that takes immense pride in it's appearance. They know they rely on tourists to keep their economy going at least parts of the year and we saw hotels and gas stations repainting any parts that needed it. In the East Bay area which appears to be geared more toward budget friendly family vacations, there was not a "dive" to be found. Every hotel had a nice tidy, well kept appearance. Now I can't speak of the insides but we've been to lots of tourist areas and you always have those few hotels you would never even think of staying in. We didn't see one that fit that description at all. Just lots of options for varying budgets and activities for families from mini golf to ziplines and of course water activities in the summer.
Tomorrow, we cover TC eats...responsible for a nice chunk o' weight gain I get to work off again. But I tell you almost every bite was worth the trouble!
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